The wording of the document signed by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un on Tuesday falls some way short of the dramatic billing the president gave it at the end of the leaders’ historic summit in Singapore.
Trump described it as a “very comprehensive” agreement that would “take care of a very big and very dangerous problem for the world”.
There is significance, of course, in the fact that the two men met at all, and ended their five hours together with the genesis of what could lead to more substantive moves towards denuclearisation. But as it stands, the document does not differ greatly from the agreement issued by Kim and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, after their meeting on the southern side of the demilitarised zone at the end of April.
The Trump-Kim document contains four main points:
The United States and the DPRK [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
That represents a departure from the fiery rhetoric that has traditionally characterised relations between Washington and Pyongyang, the latter of which routinely uses state propaganda to depict the US as an enemy power intent on destroying the regime and its people. It also reflects Kim’s desire to focus on economic progress – now possibly with American assistance – having achieved his aim of developing nuclear weapons capable of threatening the mainland US and bringing the president to the negotiating table.
The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
There is no direct commitment here to formalise those sentiments with a peace treaty to replace the armistice signed at the end of the Korean war in 1953. That would require the involvement of China and other countries that took part in the conflict. As expected, Trump offered “unspecified” security guarantees to North Korea, a gesture whose vagueness matches that of Kim’s commitment to denuclearise.
Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
This is the most critical, and easily the most problematic, of the leaders’ statements. It does not meet Washington’s long-stated goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, but simply restates Kim’s position after his summit with Moon.
No serious analysts expected the North Korean leader to commit to CVID in his first meeting with Trump. That process – if it happens at all – could take years and cost billions of dollars.
It also fails to define what is meant by denuclearisation. In Washington, it requires Kim to abandon his nuclear ambitions. But the North Korean interpretation is more complicated. The regime believes it should include the withdrawal of the US nuclear umbrella from South Korea, possibly including the withdrawal of all 28,500 US troops ranged along the South’s border with the North.
As the Atlantic Council’s Alexander Vershbow said, it comes down to the difference between the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the denuclearisation of North Korea.
The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
One of the many legacies of the 1950-53 Korean war is the recovery and repatriation of the remains of prisoners of war and soldiers who went missing in action.
“Remains of an estimated 5,300 missing American service members are in North Korea and potentially recoverable,” according to Stars and Stripes. “Because of an intensely strained relationship between the two countries, there’s been no successful effort to collect the remains since 2005.”
This is probably the most risk-averse gesture Kim could have agreed to at the summit. Japan, however, will be disappointed that the text makes no mention of Japanese nationals who were abducted by North Korean agents during the cold war.
It remains to be seen if Trump raised those abductions during his talks with Kim, having promised to do so in a phone call with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe, on Monday.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Car crashes into security barriers outside Houses Of Parliament
Kremlin “pleased” with Helsinki summit, US and Western intelligence assesses
Russian officials were “pleased” with the Helsinki summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, US and Western intelligence agencies have found, according to two intelligence sources with knowledge of the assessments.
The assessments, based on a broad range of intelligence, indicate that the Kremlin believes the July 16 summit delivered a better outcome than it had expected, but that Moscow is perplexed that Trump is not delivering more Russia-friendly policies in its aftermath.
The intelligence sources say the Russians were particularly satisfied with the press conference the two leaders gave in Helsinki after Trump and Putin met for about two hours without staff and accompanied only by translators. In the 45-minute press conference, Trump discredited US intelligence and American policies more broadly, saying “the United States has been foolish” about ties with Russia, a country that has engaged in ongoing attacks on US democracy.
A spokesperson for the Office of Director of National Intelligence declined to comment, and the White House did not respond to request for comment.
The administration’s decision last week to impose sanctions on Russia for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter left Russian officials puzzled that the President is not delivering more favorable policies.
Trump has repeatedly called for warmer relations with Moscow, but the Kremlin is neglecting to factor in the considerable role that Congress and others play in US policy-making, a Western intelligence official said.
Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov’s comments last week reflected the deflated Russian hopes for improved ties with Washington or at least less punitive US policies.
“President Putin said in Helsinki that Russia still has hopes for the creation of a constructive relationship with Washington…We are sorry that often we are not met with cooperation on this account,” Peskov said Aug. 9 in a regular press call with reporters.
Peskov’s comments contrasted sharply with the evaluation Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered immediately after the summit, when he said that the talks had been “better than super.”
Trump’s performance in Helsinki sparked unusually public criticism, even from within his own party.
The administration’s decision to impose the sanctions followed a July 26 letter from GOP Congressman Ed Royce, the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, urging the White House to comply with a law requiring the US to levy sanctions against countries that violate the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act.
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